Joe Pirillo remembers the first time he met Nick Licea.
It was his first year with the Lathrop High football program. Pirillo, who was getting a sense of his new team, was filling out his offensive line.
“I asked who plays center and no one spoke up,” he recalled.
All but Licea, who had played guard at the lower levels. He volunteered to learn the new position.
“He progressed and got better and better,” said Pirillo, who noted that Licea played 21 games at center during his two-year varsity career for the Spartans.
He added: “Nick was my quarterback on the offensive line.”
In turn, Licea became just the second player from Lathrop High to sign a National Letter of Intent to play for a four-year college football program.
Earlier this year, RJ Tisdell, Licea’s teammate and friend, signed with the University of St. Mary’s in Kansas.
Licea is also Kansas-bound. He signed on to play for Bethany College in Lindsborg on Friday. He was joined by family – included were his folks, German and Mariza, and his brother German Jr. – friends, administrators, and, of course, his coach, Pirillo, on his special signing day held at Lathrop High.
“(Bethany College) runs the same offense as here,” he said.
Licea, who plans to major in Criminal Justice, indicated that he’ll red shirt during his first year. Not only will this give him time to learn the system, but he’ll also have that first year of college to develop physically.
He and family recently visited the campus. Rather than flying, they had a chance to see plenty of western states, driving along Interstate 80 in one direction and I-70 the other way around.
Bethany College is a liberal arts school in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. That’s same conference as Tisdell’s University of St. Mary’s.
“They’re already talking about the fourth week (of this year’s schedule) when St. Mary’s plays Bethany,” Pirillo said.